My op-ed in Mint: Two many Musharrafs

Solving simultaneous equations with several unknowns

The imposition of martial law doesn’t change the Musharraf-jihadi dynamic that much. One of the people arrested yesterday was retired general Hamid Gul, as he made his way to meet Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry who had been placed under house arrest. Is Chaudhry himself linked to Gul & Co? We don’t know. But it is true, as Musharraf alleged, that under him, the Supreme Court ordered the release of several jihadi suspects and handed Lal Masjid back to its former owners. And then there were rumours of Musharraf being placed under house arrest.

So, India finds itself having to do business with the men who control Pakistan’s nukes and with the men who control its terrorists. It is possible that they are both colluding in a good cop/bad cop routine. (It has been shown that collusion can trump tit for tat in iterative prisoner’s dilemma games.) Even so, simultaneously engaging two Pakistani power centres is India’s principal challenge, not least because it has disastrously failed at its task on both previous occasions. While it remains watchful over the developments in Pakistan, New Delhi will need to be able to engage the Islamist faction in tacit negotiations if it is to prevent the Pakistani crisis from spilling over. Before that it needs to assess just how nasty a player it is likely to encounter and what cards it needs… to engage in a tit for tat. [Mint]

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